New London, NH – Colby-Sawyer College Ghosts – Building by Building

Colby-Sawyer College in New London, NH is more haunted than many colleges.

Colgate Hall at Colby-Sawyer College
“ColbySawyer-ColgateHall” by Josephbrophy at English Wikipedia

In my previous article, Ghosts of Colby-Sawyer College, New London, NH, I shared one story about a popular ghost at Colby-Sawyer’s Colgate Hall.

Recently, I researched additional ghost stories from Colby-Sawyer College, New London, and vicinity.   Most of these stories were reported to me by people who actually encountered the ghosts. In other words, these aren’t second-hand tales.

This is not a complete list. If you have stories to add, please leave a comment below this post.

Additional ghosts at Colby-Sawyer College

Austin Hall – Something haunts the third floor at Austin, according to reports. So far, we have no additional details.

Best Hall – Best has at least one and perhaps two ghosts.

One is a young woman. She appears to be older than a student, and dressed in a grey, diaphanous gown, perhaps from the Victorian era. Her sleeves and skirt seem to billow slightly, as if there’s a breeze, even when all of the doors and windows are closed and no air is stirring.

She seems to float through the corridors, and then turn to look at the viewer, smile slightly, and fade until she’s invisible. The entire manifestation takes just a few seconds.

According to one former CSC student, the ghost’s name is Mara or Maura. A second ghost–or perhaps the same one, manifesting differently–creates breezes when no doors or windows are open. Some have reported this as a wind that seems to hum slightly through the hallways.

Burpee Hall – A ghost of a field hockey player roams the halls, especially upstairs. She’s usually seen as just a shadow, and when you take a second look, all you see are her lower legs, but even they fade quickly.

She’s more often heard than seen.

Colby Hall – Colby is reported to have a phantom cat. Sometimes you’ll see it, but often you’ll only hear it meow a few times.

Don’t bother trying to chase it; it will disappear around a corner, or seem to walk right through a wall or closed door. I’ve heard that demonologist John Zaffis confirmed this spectre, but I haven’t checked with him to be certain.

Colgate Hall – In addition to my earlier report, I’ve heard that Governor Anthony Colby is one figure seen gazing over the campus from Colgate’s tower. He has grey hair and a stern look, like a sea captain.1 He’s usually translucent, and a very faint image, and then he vanishes.

McKean Hall – There are stories about the ghost of Gilbert Ross, supposedly an 18th-century witch who was burned at the stake on the land where McKean is now.

Gilbert Ross is rumored to look similar to Snape, as played by Alan Rickman, in the Harry Potter movies. He’s pale and dressed in black, and you’ll see him out of the corner of your eye, or reflected in a window pane.

Like most ghosts, when you turn to look straight at him, he’s gone.

Our research suggests that no witches were burned at the stake in America. Even during the Salem Witch Trials, all of the victims were hung, pressed, or died in prison. Mr. Ross may have been hung on the McKean site, but he probably wasn’t burned at the stake.2

Page Hall – Page has almost always had a reputation for “something” in the basement. It’s not clear what that is. There are also tales of the residual energy of a student from the late 1960s, who used to walk through the second floor corridors, wearing only a loosely-draped noose and a heavy dose of Jean Nate cologne. She wasn’t a suicide, just an eccentric student.

The Quad – This tale is reported about the Quad, as well as the fields in back of Colby-Sawyer College.

According to legend, you can still hear the marching steps of students on foggy mornings, especially very early in the morning.

Around World War I, students practiced daily military drills immediately after breakfast. Some later went to war and didn’t return… except as ghosts.

Sawyer Fine Arts Center – In addition to a typical theater ghost that lingers at the back of the auditorium, a former teacher may haunt the building. He used to tap nervously on the wall or desk when he talked, and the rhythmic sound of his tapping fingers can be heard softly, especially near his old office.

Shepard Hall – Like Page Hall, Shepard has reports of “something” uncomfortable in the basement.

The old Colby Academy building is now the property of New London, New Hampshire, after the college donated it for use as the Town Office Building. However, it was rumored to be haunted by something very dark when it was used as temporary housing for professors who were snowed in at the college, overnight.

When the building was donated to the town, important papers were transferred to the Colby-Sawyer Library. This may be why the college library is haunted. Stories include the spirit of a boy in a loft area, and a ghost that rearranges history books overnight. (Yes, just the history books. It’s a unique and quirky story.)

For more ghosts of the New London area, see my article, Ghosts of New London, NH.

About 25 miles from New London, discover the Ghosts of Old Center Cemetery, Andover, NH

Footnotes and References

1. Governor Anthony Colby – A Guide to Likenesses of NH Officials. (No longer online, but you can see Gov. Colby’s portrait, by clicking here.)

2. The Witches Way – Executed during the Burning Times – a List. (No longer online.)

6 thoughts on “New London, NH – Colby-Sawyer College Ghosts – Building by Building”

  1. Just came across this article and thought I’d add the history/ lore I heard when I went to school and lived in the Austin dorm. Phantom basket balls bouncing was a commonly reported sound- rumor was Austin used to the the gym and there was a supposedly a fatal fire.
    Also a personal experience of mine occurred after my roommates had left the room- I still doubt myself but at the time i swore I heard a woman’s voice as clear as could be whisper “Are you alright?” in my right ear. No one was there. Freaky, but the jury’s still out in my opinion.

  2. Danforth Hall is also haunted by a student who was drowned in the swamp “Susan Swamp”. She opens and closes locked doors, causes lights to flicker and will occasionally whisper in your ear.
    All personal experiences of mine

  3. I want to tell you my experience with the Colgate Hall Ghost at Colby-Sawyer when I was a student there in the 1970s. Returning from the library/cafeteria at around dusk (it was in the Fall so I’m guessing about 4pm) and about to head across the quad to my dorm, I looked up at Colgate’s tower, and there I saw a man in a top hat dressed in dark garb in the upper cupola section. In a split second I thought it incongruous, but I never doubted, and here’s the eerie part, that he belonged there. For a split second, I looked away and he was gone. The coda to this story is while sleeping in my Colgate Hall dorm bed, one winter night, I woke up and was being made love to by a force that had pinned me down but wasn’t trying to hurt me. Scary and pleasurable all at the same time. I have subsequently read that Governor Colby is believed to be Colgate’s ghost; If so, Davis one of his family names. Davis was my maiden name.

    1. How very cool, Sarah! Thanks for sharing this. I recall several stories about ghosts around Colgate, when I was a student. Also, I always felt that the upper floors “felt ghostly” in a way. There was something that seemed a little removed from our timestream, when I went up there. I was reminded of the old movie, “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.” Nothing terribly creepy, but still quite haunted.

    2. Thanks for responding to my ghost encounter story at Colby–Sawyer; when I first read about Colgate’s ghost in your Hollow Hill publication, the hair stood up on the back of my neck, having had the same ghost experience in the 1970s. Once you have such an encounter, it never leaves you.
      By the way, I recorded the experience in real time having kept a journal in those days. My dorm room was on the upper floors of Colgate; lots of nooks and crannies and landings and windows with a distinct smell of mellow old wood. So yes, I’d say there was something other worldly about that part of the building.
      Let me know if you need any further elaboration on my experience—
      Sarah Davis McBride

  4. I lived in McKeon Hall from 94-98. “Gilbert” used to use the dumb waiter elevator -which was locked- (only the house keeping staff had a key) all night long. It would ding at every floor. I returned my first year from holiday break a week early for ski team training. I stayed for one night by myself in McKeon Hall. The bathroom doors used to slam open and shut and the showers would turn on. At the time the “new dorm” (Danforth maybe?) was just built and most of the upper classman on the ski team were housed there. I went and stayed with friends until classes resumed.

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